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What is the CQC? All about the Care Quality Commission

04 September 2023


  • CQC

CQC LogoWhat is the CQC?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is an independent regulatory body responsible for overseeing and inspecting health and social care services in England. Its primary aim is to ensure that these services meet the fundamental standards of quality and safety, promoting the well-being of service users.

In this blog, we will explore the essential functions of the CQC, its inspection processes, and how it contributes to the improvement of care services.

Ensuring Fundamental Standards of Care

The CQC plays a pivotal role in regulating the quality of care services by inspecting and assessing their performance against five fundamental standards:

  • Safe: Protecting service users from abuse and harm.
  • Effective: Ensuring care, treatment, and support lead to positive outcomes.
  • Caring: Encouraging compassionate and respectful treatment.
  • Responsive: Organising services to meet individual needs.
  • Well-led: Effective leadership and governance for quality care.

To maintain these standards, the CQC employs two types of inspections: comprehensive and focused. Comprehensive inspections cover all key aspects of care and are regularly conducted to evaluate a service’s overall quality. Focused inspections, on the other hand, address specific concerns or changes in provider circumstances, sometimes not encompassing all five standards.

Diverse Service Types

The CQC assesses various types of services, including NHS trusts, GP practices, care homes, mental health services, and more. When inspecting NHS trusts, the CQC focuses on eight core services, such as surgery, critical care, and maternity care, among others. For GP practices, inspections consider the quality of care provided to specific population groups, ensuring tailored and effective services. 

We are really keen to share our experiences to help other organisations deliver better care for patients. We are not just ticking a box for CQC, we genuinely care about what we do and creating the best possible outcomes for patients. Radar Healthcare helps us to do that by shared learning, learning from excellence and highlighting how we have dealt with any issues.

Darren Davies, Head of Quality and Compliance for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity

CQC Inspection Process

Inspections by the CQC are thorough and structured to gather comprehensive evidence. The process involves:

  • Initial Meeting: CQC inspectors introduce themselves and explain the purpose of the inspection.
  • Provider Presentation: Acute hospitals, GP practices, or GP out-of-hours services present their self-assessment.
  • Data Gathering: Evidence collection through interactions with service users, staff interviews, observations, and document reviews.
  • Feedback Session: Inspectors share their findings with senior staff, identify issues, suggest improvements, and outline future inspection plans.

Ratings and Transparency

The CQC rates organisations based on the five fundamental standards, providing ratings such as outstanding, good, requires improvement, or inadequate. These ratings are accessible to the public on the CQC website, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about care providers. For organisations rated as inadequate, the CQC mandates improvements to ensure the delivery of high-quality care.

Role in Improving Care

The CQC’s role extends beyond inspections; it collaborates with various stakeholders, including care providers, NHS England, and local groups, to enhance the quality of care services. By analysing data, soliciting public views, and suggesting improvements, the CQC actively contributes to elevating the standards of care across the country.


The Care Quality Commission is a crucial entity dedicated to safeguarding the quality and safety of health and social care services in England. Through rigorous inspections, transparent ratings, and a commitment to improvement, the CQC ensures that individuals receive care that is safe, effective, and compassionate. As the landscape of care evolves, the CQC continues to play a vital role in shaping the future of healthcare in the country.

If you’re seeking ways to improve your CQC rating and enhance the quality of care in your organisation, consider exploring Radar Healthcare’s comprehensive software solutions. With a focus on safe, effective, and person-centered care, Radar Healthcare can help you navigate the changing landscape of CQC inspections and deliver exceptional services to your clients.

Improve your CQC rating

“Prior to Radar Healthcare, we had a very poor CQC inspection. The concerns were primarily around governance and documentation. We have yet to have another CQC inspection, however, when the local authority came to review, we were able to provide them with a digital source that evidenced all documents, up-to-date audits, incidents, and ongoing actions, which they were really pleased to see. They were impressed that we were pinpointing issues but then automatically creating action plans and steps to resolve them efficiently and effectively - and that is exactly what Radar Healthcare’s system allows you to evidence and continue to do.”

Shaun Lock, Quality and Compliance Manager at Ashberry

More about the CQC...

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    Podcast: Cracking the CQC with Antony Hall


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